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Secondary Infertility Causes – And How to Address Them

Secondary infertility causes are often as mysterious as unexplainedsecondary infertility infertility. Secondary infertility is just as emotionally painful as primary infertility. In some ways one could argue it’s even more painful than primary infertility as couples are more reluctant to seek help. Between 30-40 percent of couples seeking help for infertility are experiencing secondary infertility. Somehow we assume, just because we got pregnant once it’ll happen again. Unfortunately, just because you were fertile 3 years ago doesn’t guarantee you’re fertile now.

Often when I’m coaching a couple for infertility, and the focus shifts from her to him, the couple will more than happily tell me that ‘his sperm is good, he had a test 10 years ago’. From the fertility point of view ten years is a very, very long time. You can make your body more or less fertile in as little as 120 days. Taking this into account, three times a year your fertility could change from optimal to suboptimal.

What to look for in secondary infertility?

The number one factor I look for when consulting my clients with secondary infertility is ‘what has changed?’. This could be changes in the cycle (length, bleeding (lighter, more perfuse, clots etc…) frequency, pain), changes in the diet, changes in lifestyle and sleeping routine (this is ALWAYS the case, as the newborn baby pushes each couple’s life routine off track), changes in stress levels, health changes, age related changes and so on.

Usually there are many aspects of a couple’s life which have changed for better or worse and which have indirectly affected their ability to get pregnant again. Once the changes have been identified it’s easier to understand what this change means for your fertility.

Secondary Infertility Causes

  1. Undernourishment – pregnancy places a huge nutrient demand on your body. Your baby will get what she needs from your dietary intake and your reserves (if your diet is lacking in nutrients). If you breastfeed your baby your nutrient reserves can dwindle even further. Many mothers describe feeling wiped out and drained by the time their baby is six months old. What’s worse not many mothers think they should be optimizing their nutrition shortly after having their baby. This often leaves many mothers worse off nutritionally than they were before they had their first baby.
  2. Lack of sleep – let’s face it, an infant who needs to be fed every 4 hours is going to upset your usual 7-9 hours of undisrupted sleep. While asleep we learn, solve problems, detoxify, regulate hormones and heal. The health giving benefits of sleep occur in our deep sleep. New mothers (and some new fathers) are can chronically lack good quality sleep, which places a huge burden on their body and future fertility.
  3. Increased stress levels – lack of nutrients and energy takes it’s toll on the nervous system and the adrenal glands. Trying to cope with the new demands, your adrenals are pumping out adrenaline, suppressing your digestive function and your immune function. Now you are more prone to colds, flus and other infections. Emotional stress caused in part by nutritional deficiencies and lack of sleep may make you more prone to arguments with your partner. All in all this creates a negative vicious cycle which makes you more prone to secondary infertility.
  4. Increased toxicity – it could be that you are drinking more coffee now than you did before to help you cope with added stress. Or you could have adopted a new habit of indulging in a glass of wine in the evening to help you wind down. Or you may be reaching for the cookie jar or chocolate throughout the day to give you that extra energy boost. Caffeine and alcohol are known fertility suppressors. Sugar spikes throughout the day can put your hormones out of balance for eight hours at the time after a single sugar hit.

It takes approximately two to three years for a woman’s body to regain it’s energy and nutrient reserves to be able to ‘fund’ another pregnancy. And this is only the case if you actively look after your nutrition and supplement with good quality vitamins and minerals. Many couples feel the time is not on their side or want to create a playmate for their child asap. Following up with another pregnancy too soon after the first can often lead to miscarriages. Miscarriages are not only emotionally stressful but place another nutrient and energy dent in an already depleted body.

Think of your body as a fertile ground in which a new seed will sprout. If you have a garden or tend to your plants at home or the office, you will know that the soil will need to be fertilized with nutrients each spring or every so often in order for the plant to keep producing flowers or fruit. Your body is no different.

4 Step Plan for Overcoming Secondary Infertility

  1. Nutritionally prepare your body for the second pregnancy over the next 120 days. This includes supplements and is important for both partners.
  2. Ensure you get enough good quality sleep. If this is difficult to arrange, get grandparents (in some cases great-grand parents) to help out, they often feel underutilized and will enjoy it!
  3. Address your stress levels. This could mean taking up yoga, meditation, breathing exercises and EFT (emotional freedom technique).
  4. If this doesn’t turn the tables in your favor, seek help from a qualified natural fertility specialist to help you address possible underlying health and fertility issues.

What are your thoughts? Are you experiencing secondary infertility? If so have you undertaken any steps to address it? I would love to hear from you!

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About the Author: Iva Keene MRMed. ND. - Natural Fertility Specialist

Iva Keene is co-founder, creator and award-winning author of the NFP Program and director of Natural-Fertility-Prescription.com. She holds a Bachelor Degree in Health Science in Naturopathy and a Master Degree in Reproductive Medicine. She has been a qualified and internationally accredited Naturopathic Physician for over 15 years. Since founding NFP in 2008, Iva’s articles, videos, guides, and reports have reached over 1.3 million people. Iva has dedicated her professional life to supporting couples on their path to parenthood with scientifically grounded information, protocols, and coaching around preconception care, natural infertility treatments, and integrative reproductive health.